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Indigenous protests yield results
3/7/2012
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Government agrees to suspend hydroelectric project and review environmental impact.

Indigenous Panamanians and the government reached an agreement to suspend a contentious hydroelectric project planned for construction on native lands on March 6, after large deadly protests in February.

In talks mediated by the United Nations and members of the Catholic Church, the government agreed to suspend temporally the Barro Blanco project until an environmental impact assessment is complete and that all future projects will be approved by the Ngöbe-Buglé people’s General Congress.

In a statement, Mons. José Luis Lacunza, bishop of the diocese of David, said that the agreement recognized the indigenous group’s right to the use and management of natural resources on its comarca, or semi-autonomous region, in western Panama.

But the demands of the protests, which left at least two people dead in clashes with security forces, have not been completely met, such as the outright banning of mining projects on their lands, which was one of the drivers of the protest.

The talks are set to resume on March 12, after the celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the Ngöbe-Buglé comarca.
—Latinamerica Press.


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